The following local success story of one man's journey out of homelessness and into housing is taken from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa's 2021-2022 Annual Report (see page 5). Catholic Charities is the City of Santa Rosa's primary homeless services provider, operating the Samuel L. Jones Hall Homeless Shelter, the Safe Parking Pilot Program, the Homeless Services Center, and Street Outreach, among other City-funded programs to assist Santa Rosa residents who are experiencing homelessness.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
We have good news: we are seeing results!
"The Pit," as it was known to anyone living in it, was an encampment in Santa Rosa for over 100 individuals experiencing homelessness. And it was just that. Sickness and pain were constant. D.J. was stunned to find himself at The Pit after hitting rock bottom.
"I was raised to hold my head high no matter what and work hard to get what I want. It always worked for me. I am a proud father, was a business owner, and an avid model train enthusiast...until it all fell apart." A decades-long marriage ended in divorce. His business shuttered due to the pandemic. This, plus a major health crisis, cost him his housing. He thought all he had was his old RV and a place to park at this appalling encampment. Turns out he had an advocate.
It was following his seventh visit to the emergency room that D.J. was referred to Nightingale, Catholic Charities’ recuperative care shelter for unhoused individuals in need of healing. From here, he had the opportunity to take his RV, filled with all of his treasured belongings, to Safe Parking. This new partnership with The City of Santa Rosa began in 2022, offering residents an alternative to congregate shelter.
Every individual’s needs are different and, to truly meet the moment to address homelessness, these proven alternatives must be explored.
At first, the work came slowly. But over time, D.J. regained his confidence and began to complete the work himself. "I loved being a part of the social community that developed at Safe Parking. I made friends with people that I had seen in the encampment."
“I’m here to encourage my participants any way I can as we search for housing,” shares case manager Yuri Rivera. “I saw an incredible change in him over the last few months. He is strong. I know he will succeed in housing.”
After a few months of searching and small but meaningful steps forward, D.J. found housing that meets his health needs and has the space for him to rebuild his life. Catholic Charities housing stabilizers will help ensure his transition goes smoothly. He hopes to soon reconnect with his children. Though his new disability prevents him from getting back to automotive work, he has already begun making space for a new model train set.
“All I needed was a little light at the end of the tunnel. Yuri and Catholic Charities provided that light. I am so grateful to be home again.”